Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why is "new information" so hard to understand?

I don't understand why the concept of genetic information is so difficult and subject to so many odd attempts at defining it. Perhaps I'm the one who doesn't get it, maybe I'm talking about something other than information. But I don't think so.

This confusion comes up on another thread with Wounded King answering a creationist who has quoted an article that seems to be about quantifying information.

Which makes no sense according to my understanding about information, so let me try again to spell out that understanding:

Evolution to be true clearly needs a source of genetic material, something that makes DNA, makes genes etc.

Mutation is usually put forward as that source. Mutation is an accident that occurs during the replication of DNA that can rearrange segments of a gene. Sometimes the rearrangement brings about a change in the function of the gene so that it no longer does what it did before. Sometimes the rearrangement produces no observable change in the function of the gene, that is, it is still able to make the protein it made before and the trait governed by it still appears in the phenotype. Sometimes the rearrangement produces a different protein and this can bring about genetic disease. There are thousands of known genetic diseases as opposed to very few known positive effects from mutation, and those few benefits are gained at the expense of something that's basically destructive to the organism.

The kinds of rearrangements of DNA that mutation can bring about include the inversion of a segment, the exchange of a -- usually short -- segment with the same segment of the opposite paired gene, the duplication of a segment and so on.

I'm sure there are more but my impression is that nothing new is created by these means. That is it is all the rearrangement of given genetic material, and the most common outcome is something damaging to the gene and therefore the organism.

Something new, however, is what is needed if evolution is true. Something new would be a brand new viable gene for a brand new viable trait. A whole new section of the DNA strand as long as a gene that is brand new.

This is necessary because different species have different genes. Even if the majority of genes are common to similar species or even to all species, there are still definitively different genes that characterize the different species. What is needed, clearly, if evolution is true, is a mechanism that can produce such totally new and different genetic material.

As far as I know there isn't the slightest hint of a process that could ever yield such an effect. All that mutations can do is change an existking gene so that it functions differently. Enough mutations to a given gene over generations can kill it too. The very best result of a mutation would be the formation of a viable new allele. But it would still be an allele for an existing gene and an existing trait. And as far as I know even this much has not been observed. Damaged genes have, however, been observed, genes whose function has been damaged or destroyed by the mutation.

The creation of "something new" is what I've understood by "increase in genetic information." Reshufflings of existing genes are not ever going to produce the kind of changes that would lead to a new species.

What are known as new species are formed by the reduction of genetic diversity in a population until the particular alleles of the genes for the traits of the new species are favored and come to reliably characterize this new population or new species. None of this requires mutation or the addition of new information. And the genetic condition of the new species is REDUCED from the original, and every new isolation of a new species is formed the same way, from a genetic reduction.

You can't get evolution beyond the built-in potentials of the Kind because of this natural pattern for the formation of new varieties (which are called new species if they cease to be able to breed with the former population, a condition that can come about simply because of the genetic differences caused by the reduction in genetic variability it takes to form the new species.)

These changes are what is called "microevolution" and they do not require either mutation or new information.

SOMETHING like mutation would be necessary if macroevolution could occur but what mutations actually do doesn't help macroevolution at all.

A mutation that formed a new gene for a new trait, or even a sequence of mutations that could be shown to tend in that direction, is what is needed to generate new "information" which is what is needed for evolution beyond the pattern I've described above.

But even as I say that I realize I'm talking theoretically about something that is only the wishfulness of evolutionists as they deny the pattern I've described above, the fact that new varieties and what are called new species can only come about by reducing or eliminating alleles from the population of the new variety, reducing genetic variability in that population in order to form and preserve a new characteristic or phenotype, and that spells the end to all hopes of macroevolution.

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